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What is the Best Interest Standard?

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In the realm of Florida family courts, the compass guiding decisions related to your child’s well-being is the Best Interest Standard. When it comes to divorce, Florida statute §61.13 takes a stand: the court’s policy is crystal clear—all decisions concerning children, be it custody or timesharing, should align with the best interests of the child. Every detail is tailored to what uniquely benefits your child. The courts start with the presumption of shared parental responsibility, favoring equality in decision-making between parents regarding education, healthcare, and more.

Florida courts prefer a collaborative approach—shared parental responsibility. This signifies a belief in both parents having equal say in significant aspects of their child’s life. Yet, this is not an ironclad rule; it’s subject to reconsideration if the court deems it detrimental to the child.

Florida Statute 61.13 provides a list of factors, each a brushstroke on the canvas of your child’s well-being. Let’s paint a picture:

  • Parental Care Ability: The court looks at each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs and maintain a consistent routine.
  • Stability Matters: The length of time a child has lived in a stable home becomes a key consideration.
  • The Big Picture: Records of the child’s community, home, and school contribute to the canvas of their life.
  • Health Check: The mental and physical health of parents and their moral fitness.
  • Fostering Relationships: The willingness and capacity of each parent to nurture a close, continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • Practical Considerations: The geographic feasibility of the parenting plan and time-sharing, especially considering the child’s needs.
  • Safety First: Evidence of factors like sexual violence, child neglect, abuse, domestic violence, or child abandonment.
  • Home Sweet Home: The ability to provide a safe home, free from substance abuse.
  • Child’s Voice: If the judge deems the child mature enough, their reasonable preference is considered.

Florida court judges, armed with this wealth of information, wield their wisdom to ensure every decision aligns with the best interests of your child. While there’s no one-size-fits-all definition for the best interest of a child, these factors, examined on a case-by-case basis, bring clarity.
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